Self-esteem is having confidence in our ability to think and cope with basic challenges in life. It is being confident in our right to be happy, worthy, and deserving of our wants and needs.
If someone lacks self-esteem, their psychological growth is restricted, and their resilience is weakened. If someone has realistic self-confidence, however, they tend to experience the world with an open mind and respond appropriately to challenges and opportunities.
Self-esteem is vital to a child’s social, emotional, and behavioural development. It plays a role in their ability to handle setbacks, accept feedback, manage peer pressure, and meet other challenges face on.
A child with positive self-esteem tends to have good mental health, which allows them to bounce back from experiences of stress and negativity. They often feel more loved, have solid self-respect, and grow into productive people.
If your child is struggling with their self-esteem, here are 6 ways you can help them:
Psychologists have found that practising mindfulness can assist in reducing low self-esteem. As mindfulness is about being in the present moment, it creates openness and the ability for your child to be vulnerable with their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Mindfulness trains the brain to observe these things without passing judgement, which supports their self-esteem. Playing games and activities that promote mindfulness can also support self-esteem.
A child that knows how much they’re loved often has a positive sense of security and sense of belonging too. This is vital so that they can view themselves in a positive and valued light. This type of love is foundational for all healthy and secure relationships that they form later in life.
You can’t wear out the words I love you, so make sure you always tell them and give them hugs regularly. Expressing love lets them know it’s ok to express emotion as they develop their own social circles, form bonds, and develop teammates.
Spending time with your child and playing with them shows them that you enjoy their company. The not only generates a positive and strong bond between you and your child, but it also develops their confidence in being creative and imaginative. Spending time with them allows them to feel that they are interesting and entertaining, which is part of building sound social bonds. Studies have shown that a child’s happiness can increase, and anxiety and depression decrease when healthy play is engaged in.
Having the responsibility of age-appropriate chores gives your child purpose and accomplishment. It doesn’t matter that they’re not done perfectly, it’s about praising them and letting them know you appreciate their efforts.
Responsibilities can also provide your child with a sense of control in their lives, which can help them build confidence and resilience.
As your child grows, it’s important for them to increasingly become more independent. Allowing them to approach and take on challenges encourages problem-solving skills, which in turn will increase their self-esteem. Parents that hang around and try to consistently solve problems for them undermine their child’s ability to do things on their own and this can negatively impact their self-esteem.
It’s crucial that children understand that mistakes and failures can occur in life, but that this isn’t grounds for giving up. Looking at mistakes and failures in a positive light can help them to see them as opportunities for further learning, improvement, and growth.
Show patience as they learn, even when they are having a meltdown about not getting something on the first try. When they are ready to listen, working through the challenges together, will help them to build confidence and foster a growth mindset. Once they grasp the idea of trying again, transition them to continue this independently.
As a parent, it’s important never to insult your child, even when they do something that frustrates you. Remember, your child’s behaviour is separate from your child. Of course, there are going to be times when they irritate you, but steer clear of name-calling and shaming them. Instead, take a breath and try talking to them with respect and without emotion.
Letting your child know that no one is perfect and there are no expectations on them to achieve perfection is important. Perfectionism can drive productive behaviours and so it’s important to recognise whether your child is acting from a place of positive self-esteem or from perfectionism.
Steer clear of insincere praise or drawing comparisons between other children, they can detect this, and it will only emphasise their negative self-beliefs.
Helping your child to develop their self-esteem is one of the best things you can do for them and being aware of helpful ways you can encourage their self-esteem to grow is important. Showing unconditional love, having fun with them, giving them responsibilities, and encouraging independence will go a long way towards improving their confidence. Shaming, blaming, and guilting them doesn’t help them in the long run, so make sure you’re aware of the language you’re modelling and steer clear of any expectations around perfection. Instead, allow them to make mistakes and accept them as something they can learn from rather than a failure, and this will not only foster a growth mindset but nurture self-belief and self-esteem too.